Compassion fatigue and how to deal with it

When you begin healing as a coach, many of you will experience compassion fatigue.

“Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.”

Dr. Charles Figley, Professor, Director, Tulane Traumatology Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

Symptoms of compassion fatigue

Work related

  • Avoidance or dread of working with certain patients
  • Reduced inability to feel empathy towards patients or families
  • Frequent use of sick days
  • Lack of joyfulness


  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems: diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances: inability to sleep, insomnia, too much sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiac symptoms: chest pain/ pressure, palpitations, and tachycardia


  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Oversensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive use of substances: nicotine, alcohol, illicit drugs
  • Depression
  • Anger and resentment
  • Loss of objectivity
  • Memory issues
  • Poor concentration, focus and judgment

How to get rid of compassion fatigue:

Self care first:  This means that you practice before you preach. Nourish ourselves, both physical and emotional nutrition, this will provide emotional stability for you as a coach to be able to counsel clients calmly and without getting disturbed yourself. In the next module we are going to talk about breathing techniques necessary for every coach for cleansing yourself of negative emotional energy.
Keep up the  education: We know that our program is extremely thorough and you will be a wonderful coach, but continuing learning and understanding the new breakthroughs in clinical nutrition and emotional well-being will help you not only cope well with yourself but also keep improving your practice with your clients.
Set emotional boundaries: This is extremely important. This means that every consultation needs to have a limited amount of time, and that every single day, you are going to spend some time with yourself in order to stay grounded within.
Engage in outside hobbies: Just like all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, similarly a coach who is only working and thinking about work is going to be pessimistic and low energy. Find out what you love, practice that, also practice self nurturing. In our self nurturing module, we are given 30 tips for 30 days, start by making your own list of tips on a daily basis to ensure that you are doing mental and emotional ” time out” for yourself. Cultivate healthy friendships outside of work: This means that just engaging with our wonderful community of coaches should be enough because we are so many of us, however you need to have a perspective of the outside world, even outside of your immediate family. This not only refreshes the mind and body but also gives you fresh perspectives of other people which help you grow as an individual. Friendships, whether in your locality or in any part of the world, can be continued with continued communication and time with each other. In today’s world, this is increasingly possible when you can do with your calls and also have ” zoom parties!”

Keep a journal: If you are feeling overwhelmed, putting something down on paper will always help you get all the negative energy out and make you feel lighter. Keeping a journal has been clinically shown to reduce anxiety.
Use positive coping strategies: These include pranayama, meditation and gentle exercise. Apart from nourishing yourself with healthy food, lots of vegetables, start practising the restorative yoga given in this course and you will realise that your response to stress is going to start changing. And once that happens, you will be the calm coach everybody trusts and wants to keep coming back to. That is our final purpose for the certification program!